EPA chief upgraded official car to one with bulletproof seat covers

EPA chief upgraded official car to one with bulletproof seat covers
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Add bulletproof seat covers to the list of items Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE requested last year as additional security measures.

Pruitt upgraded his official car last June from the traditional Chevrolet Tahoe SUV to a higher-end Chevy Suburban with bullet-resistant covers over the car's bucket seats, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The new car was ordered last May and cost the government $10,200 for a one-year lease, according to federal spending records. Records show that EPA requested upgrades to the vehicle which included Wi-Fi, GPS navigation, second-row bucket seats and a leather interior. The upgrades were an additional $300 per month.

Pruitt wanted the larger car because it was similar to those used by other Cabinet officials, a former EPA official told the Post.

The official said that the bulletproof seats, made of the same kevlar used in bulletproof vests, was approved by the head of Pruitt’s security detail, Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta. The covers cost hundreds of dollars, according to the source.

Federal records show that the government continued the lease on the 2014 Chevy Tahoe previously used by former EPA chief Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyCalifornia commits to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 Overnight Energy: Watchdog faults EPA over Pruitt security costs | Court walks back order on enforcing chemical plant rule | IG office to probe truck pollution study EPA unveils new Trump plan gutting Obama power plant rules MORE, but current and former staffers say the car has been sitting unused at EPA headquarters. The rental, renewed Feb. 2, 2017, cost more than $9,000.

Democratic lawmakers provided their own details on Pruitt's vehicle security requests in a letter they sent to President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE last week, where they included notes taken with former EPA aide Kevin Chmielewski.

In those notes, they said that Chmielewski "provided several examples of wasteful security spending" which included, "the purchase of bulletproof vests and weapons, biometric locks, a security sweep of your office, [and] one or more new SUVs for your travel."

Pruitt has raised eyebrows in the past for novel security requests including the need for first-class travel and an around-the-clock security team.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said that EPA has "no bulletproof vehicles" nor did it ever seek "any contracts for bulletproof vehicles," but declined to comment on reports of the Suburban upgrade and use of bulletproof car seat covers.

“Security decisions are made by EPA’s Protective Service Detail and are similar to security protocol across the federal government," Wilcox said in a statement Tuesday.

--Updated at 11:55 a.m.